December 14, 1930 - New York Giants verse Rockne's All-Stars at the Polo Grounds
In the 1920s, Notre Dame was the top college team in the country behind the Four Horsemen. At the same time, the New York Giants were the top team in the relatively newly formed NFL. There had been speculation at the time of how college teams would fare against the professional teams.
As the Great Depression hit, the New York mayor Jimmy Walker extended an invitation to all college and professional teams to help raise money for the Committee on Unemployed. A member of the Giants press staff suggested the Giants play Notre Dame in a post-season exhibition game. Rockne was in favor of the idea but the week before Notre Dame was playing Southern Cal out west. The team would be unable to travel to both coasts in back-to-back weeks. Instead, Rockne countered by suggesting the Giants play a Notre Dame team made up of past and present All-Stars.
Rockne's team assembled in South Bend on Tuesday before the game and after four straight days of practice boarded a train for New York. The team arrived on Saturday morning and had time to practice in the Polo Grounds in advance of Sunday's game.
Game day arrived and the stadium was decorated with blue/gold bunting on one side and red/blue bunting on the other. There were more band members than football players the Notre Dame Fight Song and East Side West Side played over and over. The team gathered in the locker room and Rockne told them that the Giants were big and slow. The plan was to score three touchdowns through the air in the first half and then play defense in the second half. Rockne's All Stars included:
The two teams agreed on modified rules to play by which included free substitutions and twelve and a half minute quarters. Lastly, Rockne supposedly asked the Giants coach to take it easy on his team. The game was billed to be able to "See the Four Horsemen Ride Again" but the Giants outweighed the Irish team by about 60 pounds a player.
In the first two minutes of the game, Stuhldreher was sacked in the end zone for a safety. In the first quarter, the Four Horsemen gained five yards and lost seventeen. After two touchdowns in the second quarter, the Giants led 15-0. Rockne asked for the pros to ease up and not embarrass his team in a charity event. The Giants did just that and scored the final touchdown in the third quarter. The New York Giants led every stat in the box score: First Downs 8 to 1, Rushing Yards 138 to 34, Passing 7-19 94yd to 0-9 2 INT. Notre Dame never got past their own 49 and their longest play was a 12 yard run that resulted in the only first down. Rockne told his team that the Giants was the greatest football machine he ever saw.
1 2 3 4 Notre Dame All-Stars 0 0 0 0 - 0 New York Giants 2 13 7 0 - 22
55,000 fans watched the charity event and $115,153 was raised for the Unemployment Fund. Knute Rockne would die in the plane crash the following spring and not coach the next college fall. Therefore, this would be the last Notre Dame team that Knute Rockne coached.
To read more about the game, find a copy of Barry Gottehrer's The Giants of New York: The history of professional football's most fabulous dynasty.
Keywords: football, knute rockne, polo grounds, four horsemen, nfl, southern cal, seven mules, harry stuhldreher, jim crowley, elmer layden, don miller, adam walsh, joe bach, rip miller, noble kizer, ed hunsinger, jack chevigny, jack cannon, john law, tim moynihan, ted twomey, joe vezie, john gebert, jack elder, bucky oconnor, frank carideo, hunk anderson, glenn carberry
Posted On: 2011-12-14 03:15:00 by IrishTrpt07
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